Version tested: Wii
"Great fun and easy to play for all the family!" shouts the back of the box. Well, no. Like altogether too many third-party Wii games, the only way in which Ready 2 Rumble Revolution is accessible is that everyone - no matter their age, gaming aptitude, IQ or marketing profile - will find it equally unwieldy, complex, unpredictable and annoying to use.
Ready 2 Rumble Revolution spruces up Midway's 1999 featherweight champ Ready 2 Rumble Boxing, only under an Atari banner this time. Not a bad idea in theory. Ready 2 Rumble was a lively boxing game that channelled the punch-drunk cartoon characters of Nintendo's Punch-Out!! (also due a Wii remake soon) in a more conventional two-player beat-'em-up. It swaggered, japed and hollered its way into the hearts of many, especially in a crisp Dreamcast version, and not without reason.
Actually, it's 2000's Ready 2 Rumble Boxing Round 2 that's the direct inspiration here. That game famously featured Bill and Hilary Clinton as unlockable characters, along with once-great pop freak no-I-didn't-get-tickets Michael Jackson, and rhyming basketball giant Shaquille O'Neal. Revolution takes this idea and runs with it, adding a whole rogues' gallery of unendorsed, caricatured "slebs" under pseudonyms. Naturally, it updates the idea. To round about 2001.
You get Brad Pitt as he appeared in Snatch (2000), Jack Black in a schoolboy uniform (School of Rock, presumably - 2003), David Beckham with a mohawk (2001), and portly liggers John Travolta and David Hasselhoff, whose irrelevance is a universal constant. It feels like a missed opportunity. They're passably amusing likenesses of a bunch of pretty famous people, but there's nothing especially exciting about making them beat the crap out of each other; nothing with the stellar irreverence of making Gordon Ramsay tussle with Vladimir Putin, say, or having Barack Obama punch Lily Allen's lights out. (Or, for that matter, getting 50 Cent to shoot up the Middle East.)
Unique selling-point so shrugged off, it's left to the looks, structure and mechanics of the game to recommend themselves. It's a fairly slick presentation, bold and solid - although the art style has a definite whiff of the tourist-trap street cartoonist, and the boxers' extravagant appearance isn't matched by their stilted animation. You can have some fun turning out grotesques with the create-a-boxer mode though - I became quite fond of simpering lightweight fop Bob "Nasty Boy" Doubles, with his purple hi-top and handlebar moustache.
It's a pretty complete package, too. Multiplayer is well-serviced with quick match, team match and full tournament modes. There's an Arcade mode, and a career Championship that alternates weekend bouts with weekday training mini-games that build up your fighter's stats. The training mini-games can also be played separately, should you so desire (you won't). Boxers are unlocked in arcade mode, while earning and spending cash in a Championship unlocks a wide range of character customisations.
As for the mechanics... well, I can't really report on the mechanics, because between me and them stand Ready 2 Rumble Revolution's control scheme: a solid wall of impenetrable, dysfunctional, impossible, self-defeating motion-control idiocy.